Minister Coveney announces Blue Flag and Green Coasts Awards 2016
Mr Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, today (26 May 2016) presented the 2016 Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards at a ceremony at Velvet Strand, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin.
A total of 141 awards were presented for beaches and marinas in 14 local authorities around the country.
The Blue Flag is an international award for beach excellence, which is operated in Ireland by An Taisce with support from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The award is presented to beaches and marinas which have excellent water quality and which achieve high standards across a wide range of other criteria including environmental education, management of the environment, safety and other services.
The Blue Flag Programme has been operating in Ireland since 1988, and this year 85 Blue Flags are being awarded, 79 to beaches and 6 to marinas. The Minister noted that “while the quality of Ireland’s bathing water remains very high, we must not become complacent. We must continue to invest in improving water services infrastructure so as to improve the quality of our waters. This will support the great effort being put into the Blue Flag Programme by the local authorities and coastal communities.”
56 Green Coast Awards are being presented for 2016. The Green Coast Award is given to beaches which have excellent water quality but which may be less developed and less populated than Blue Flag beaches.
An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of Coastcare Volunteer Groups. There are now over 400 Coast care groups established throughout the island. The Minister paid tribute to the work of these groups stating that they “provide a strong indication of the dedication that individuals have to the improvement of their communities and surroundings”.
The Minister also highlighted the bathing water information available on linked websites – http://www.blueflagireland.org/ and http://splash.epa.ie/ – run by An Taisce and the Environmental Protection Agency respectively. He commended both organisations on the provision of the most up to date information on water quality, tides, weather and presence of lifeguards at our beaches during the bathing season..